Bcl-2 family proteins are key regulators of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway, either facilitating (Bax, Bak, BH3-only) or inhibiting (Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, Mcl-1, A1) mitochondrial release of apoptogenic factors. The role of caspases in this process is a matter of controversy. We have analyzed the relative contribution of caspases and Bcl-2 family of proteins in the induction phase of apoptosis triggered by doxorubicin in two p53-deficient leukemia cell lines, Jurkat and U937. First, we have found that caspases are dispensable for the induction phase of doxorubicin-induced apoptosis in both cell lines but they are needed to speed up the execution phase in Jurkat cells, not expressing Bax. Thus, down-regulation of Bak expression by siRNA significantly prevented doxorubicin-induced apoptosis in Jurkat but not in U937 cells. Reduction of Mcl-1 protein levels with siRNA increased sensitivity to apoptosis in both cell lines. Moreover, our results indicate that the contribution of BH3-only proteins to apoptosis is cell line specific. In Jurkat cells simultaneous silencing of Bim and PUMA was necessary to reduce doxorubicin-induced apoptosis. In U937 cells silencing of Bim or Noxa reduced sensitivity to doxorubicin. Immunoprecipitation experiments discarded an interaction between Mcl-1 and Bak in both cell lines and underscored the role of Bim and PUMA as mediators of Bax/Bak activation. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.
- BH3-only proteins
- Bcl-2 family proteins